Visitors 20
Modified 29-Dec-11
Created 29-Dec-11
16 photos, 2 videos

Never did I imagine, when I visited the Boulder Valley Rotary Club Share-A-Gift toy distribution outside of Boulder, Colorado on Saturday, December 17, 2011, that I would spend the next 5 days coordinating the shipping and distribution of 37 boxes of donated toys to the needy of the Roaring Fork Valley. (We actually distributed 43 boxes of toys and 10 boxes of clothing and housewares, through donations during our distributions!)

I have yet to write and/or edit/post the photos from my tour of the Share-A-Gift toy drive but have included a photo from that day so you can see the magnitude and fabulous organization of the Boulder toy distribution.

It all started with my asking the question of SAG 2011 President, Lisa Wade, "what are you going to do with all these leftover toys?". (I knew the needy of our valley were desperately seeking any help they could find with very few resources available for the epic numbers of needy.) Lisa responded by telling me that for many years, a woman from South Dakota would drive a big truck down and take the remaining gifts to a reservation there. But, the woman passed away this past year and none of her family had taken up the task so there was no firm plan in place other than calling the Salvation Army.

Long story short, I contacted my local City Market manager, Trent Cook, who put me in touch with the King Soopers transportation coordinator. Within 10 minutes of receiving the specifics from me, emailed 11 other employees involved, and Tuesday morning, met Lisa at the warehouse where the toys were, loaded and shipped them to our El Jebel City Market, (and emailed a photo the of toys shrink-wrapped and on pallets, which I've included herein).

I returned home with a full load of toys which I took to the Carbondale Lift Up food pantry on Monday. As soon as I got there, I was met by a mother of two young children, uninsured, with cancer as well as a representative of the Head Start program who had gone to the food pantry in her quest to find toys for 40 impoverished families. She welled up with tears as I told her she could have everything in the car and more was coming. We moved those toys to her storage unit, made a plan to move the toys after they arrived, to the sorting area.

Once back at home, I called Basalt Mini Storage and was immediately and graciously lent their moving truck and a storage unit to sort and store the toys in, although it spilled out into their driveway in a big way as you can see in the photo. I emailed public service announcements to each of our newspapers and radio stations and followed up with calls.

Wednesday morning we met at City Market at 6:30 a.m., met the City Market truck at the dock, moved the toys and began our magical journey as Elves, setting up tables, impromptu systems, and labeled boxes to sort the 100's and 100's of toys. Those eight volunteers endured some frigid winds over the 6 hours it took but remained cheerful and hard-working throughout.

Wednesday morning six new volunteers and one from the day before, moved the toys to Basalt Town Hall where we were scheduled to begin inside at noon. The weather being beautiful that day, and wanting to get as many people's attention as possible, we opted to set up tables and areas outdoors, right on the main thoroughfare. It worked, except we ended up with 6 MORE boxes of toys and 10 boxes of housewares, clothing, etc. that were extra donated to 38 victims of an apartment fire, the week prior. So... we packed up, moved it to storage and I quickly went to work organizing a distribution in Carbondale and pleading with radio and newspapers to run another PSA letting the needy know we had toys, etc. and also the need for more volunteers, for Friday, December 23.

Amazingly, 4 volunteers showed to move the toys to Carbondale, do the set up/take down and worked the entirety on literally a couple hours notice. My friend Susan Tsuzuki, worked all three days and I'm so grateful for her merry and hard work. We saw a lot of grandparents that day who among their tears of joy, had tears of sadness and stories of their children's and their own unemployment and hard times they never expected.

Upon getting home that afternoon, I found 4 big boxes of *brand new* older boys toys, shipped from the Grand Junction Toys for Tots. I immediately pulled out slips of paper and business cards I had collected from people who had made requests for same, called them, and had the last toys picked up by 10:30 p.m. that night. Ultimately, we helped 182 families get their 423 children presents as well as a few needy preschools and organizations.

It was amazing to see 25 people give up time out of their busy holiday week, on literally a moment's notice, to make sure many others had joy during their holiday. I'm also grateful to the following for all their help:

• Aspen Daily News/Dorothy Atkins
• Aspen Times
• David Bach & Rochelle/KSPN FM radio
• Mary Jo Hughes & Clay/Basalt Mini Storage
• Sally Ferren/Basalt Town Hall
• Jody Ensign/Third Street Center
• And the great volunteers:
⁃ Susan Tsuzuki
⁃ Mark Friberg
⁃ Laura & Ella
⁃ Adeile Melnick
⁃ Jan & Lloyd Strobeck
⁃ Deb Bamesberger
⁃ Susan Markofski
⁃ Kelli Escj
⁃ Debbie Kelly
⁃ Dick Merritt
⁃ RJ, Nancy, Riley & ?? Gallagher
⁃ Karen Dattilo
⁃ Jeff Nard
⁃ Abbi Nichols
⁃ Corinne Passey
⁃ Taylor Bellhouse
⁃ Brittany Schneider

I've included the videos I shot at the Boulder Share-A-Gift and will be posting the photos and blog of all I learned, soon. Blessings to you all.